Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Advocates say Indiana cuts will hurt psych patients

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RICHMOND, Ind. (AP) — Indiana’s plan to move hundreds of patients from state psychiatric hospitals into community-based care could prevent some patients from receiving proper treatment, mental health advocates said.

The plan announced Thursday by the Family and Social Services Administration for Indiana’s six state hospitals would cost about 500 people their jobs.

The FSSA said moving patients with chronic addictions or mental disabilities into home or community-based services is expected to reduce the number of patients at the six hospitals by about 30 percent and save the state $15 million a year.

But state Rep. Tom Saunders, R-Lewisville, said he was outraged by the plan and questioned its wisdom.

“I understand we are all under financial stress, as a state and as individuals,” he said Friday in a statement. “However, sending patients home from a mental hospital when they need care shouldn’t be the solution. Where do they go if they need help, especially since we have moved them out of our assistance?”

The biggest changes and the layoffs will come at the Logansport and Richmond state hospitals, while units at the Evansville and Madison hospitals will be converted to care for those with serious mental illnesses.

Richmond State Hospital will have 106 of 600 workers laid off and its patient capacity cut from 312 to 211 and its youth services and substance abuse units will close.

Kim Lairson, president of the east-central Indiana chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said there has been a waiting list to get into the Richmond hospital.

She said many people with mental illnesses end up in prisons instead of psychiatric hospitals after committing violent crimes that are “the result of ill people being out in the community and making very drastic errors.”

“There is a place for state hospitals and there are people — people who are a danger to themselves and/or other people — that need the care the state hospital provides,” Lairson said Friday.

Jeff Cappa, chief deputy of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, said the Richmond hospital’s downsizing “could put a strain on local resources.” He said the Wayne County Jail cannot provide treatment for the mentally ill.

Cappa said it’s unclear what kind of impact it could have for area law enforcement.

“Obviously, we’re going to have to wait and see,” he said.



Posted 7/12/2010




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